Islands of Rage & Hope: This series takes a bad turn

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsIslands of Rage & Hope by John RingoIslands of Rage & Hope by John Ringo 

How is it possible to remain interested in the somewhat plodding description of how mankind slowly tries to save itself after a zombie apocalypse? The first book in the BLACK TIDE RISING series, Under a Graveyard Sky, had the novelty of describing how the world was falling apart and the small, at times very painful steps that were taken to keep some hope alive. The second book, To Sail a Darkling Sea, started to flirt with some of the craziness that would be completely inescapable in a world where order has been lost. Things like pregnancy after four men and one woman have spent four months confined in a small lifeboat and the PTSD like effects of being the person who was willing to kill friends and family when they began to become zombies. All of this was interesting in a bizarre, morbid kind of way. Book three, Islands of Rage & Hope, is something different and I am not impressed.

There are people among us who are simply superior physical specimens. In modern society, with the right motivation they become the Olympic and professional athletes who leave so many of us in awe as we watch them perform. In the US military, there are people like that too. They gravitate to certain specialties and we seldom ever hear of the awe-inspiring feats they accomplish. Ringo adds a character like that to Islands of Rage & Hope. It’s interesting for a minute or two…. then it becomes almost annoying because he’s superman who can leap from high staircases with 100 pounds of body armor and ammo even though he’s in his seventies. Credibility check!!

Ringo also continues with his theme of making super-heroes out of the daughters of CPT Smith. Well, that’s the best way I can describe reading over and over about a 13 year old girl who happens to be almost six feet tall, have the build of a female body-builder and have very few hang-ups when it comes to being an overwhelming zombie killing machine. I like the concept that Ringo is working with, but when she is holding her own with a high level combatives trained Army Special Forces adult male I lost it. I am not well educated on the physiology differences between grown men and preteen girls, and maybe this is not a complete farce, but Ringo lost me at that point.

Islands of Rage & Hope chronicles how the Wolf Squadron moves back across the Atlantic to clear Guantanamo Bay in order to hunt for the precursors to make the vaccine for the virus that causes people to turn into Zombies. Beyond that important stage we have a continual feed of events that lead humanity’s survivors forward to clear more and more space from the zombie plague. Some of it is interesting, until we get a Celebrity Survivor-esque cast of ultra-gorgeous females who just happen to have survived and are in need of rescue. Again…. there were so many non-laughable ways he could have taken the story that didn’t involve this kind of ridiculous turn in the plot. Oh, and a Ringo series wouldn’t be a Ringo series without a cameo appearance by British Ghurkas.

The BLACK TIDE RISING series when to hell in a hand basket in book three. It feels like a farce at times, but there are so many interesting ideas that Ringo is tossing around that I find myself dying to know what happens next. Yes, it was not a great book and was filled with some very offensive plot elements that made me cringe. Even after admitting how bad this book is, I will still read the next book because I really want to know what is going to happen. I am addicted….

Black Tide Rising — (2013- ) Publisher: NEW SF/HORROR SERIES FROM NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLING AUTHOR! A family of survivors who fight back against a zombie plague that has brought down civilization. Zombies are real. And we made them. Are you prepared for the zombie apocalypse? The Smith family is, with the help of a few marines. When an airborne “zombie” plague is released, bringing civilization to a grinding halt, the Smith family, Steven, Stacey, Sophia and Faith, take to the Atlantic to avoid the chaos. The plan is to find a safe haven from the anarchy of infected humanity. What they discover, instead, is a sea composed of the tears of survivors and a passion for bringing hope. For it is up to the Smiths and a small band of Marines to somehow create the refuge that survivors seek in a world of darkness and terror. Now with every continent a holocaust and every ship an abattoir, life is lived beneath a graveyard sky.

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JOHN HULET (on FanLit's staff July 2007 -- March 2015) is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. John’s experiences have often left a great void that has been filled by countless hours spent between the pages of a book lost in the words and images of the authors he admires. During a 12 month tour of Iraq, he spent well over $1000 on books and found sanity in the process. John lives in Utah and works slavishly to prepare soldiers to serve their country with the honor and distinction that Sturm Brightblade or Arithon s’Ffalenn would be proud of. John retired from FanLit in March 2015 after being with us for nearly 8 years.

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4 comments

  1. “Ringo also continues with his theme of making super-heroes out of the daughters of CPT Smith.”

    That was my primary concern with the series from the start. Strong female figures in SFF are great, and I appreciate it when they’re done well, but what Ringo did here was just unbelievable. It stretched the bounds of credibility too much. To add a superhuman senior citizen to the tale . . . well, that’s not surprising, but certainly not what the story needed.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the first 2 books, so I’ll likely give this a shot at some point, but I could already see where Ringo was taking the overall story arc, and I could sense it wasn’t where I wanted to see it go.

  2. I think Ringo is trying too hard. The older daughter makes more sense because she is being written to traits that are very believable. She’s a genius, a good leader, a deadly shot with her AR-15….all things I can buy into. I agree that strong female figures are great. My preference is when authors will not ignore reality in order to make them strong….

    Modesitt jr is a big fan of very, very strong female characters. In truth, he almost always depicts them as the unsung heroes of his stories while the evil bad guys are invariably male.

  3. Oh, no! I feel very ripped off when a series book tanks after I’ve invested energy in the previous books. And, let’s see… superhero young-blood and superhero Baby Boomer. Um, yay, diversity…?

  4. Ryan Gyurkovitz /

    You’re kind of missing the point of, “The higher your rank, the worse you’re screwed” aspect of the book. Junior officers are widely derided within the ranks for a reason. It actually makes sense that not only would few survive, but that there majority of those remaining would be either useless, or counter-productive.

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